Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wall

I'm feeling like I've hit the wall for the semester.

I'm behind enough in my grading that I can't decide if I should just grade whatever's on top and work down, or if I should try to organize it.

I have revisions to grade. And I have conferences about the next set of revisions.

I have presentations to grade, and responses to presentations. And a few more presentations to come.

I have other presentations to grade, and written work in my senior seminar, and more conferences to help students work on their seminar papers.

Wednesday, I'll also get a stack of peer editing responses. I hate grading peer editing responses, but I have to say, it's one place where students dramatically improve their work when they realize it's graded and that it's not just a "turn it in and get an A" sort of thing. But damn, they're just boring and blah to grade.

Every so often, I'm taken totally aback by a student question. The other day, in my senior seminar, a student asked what the little circles in the text meant. (They look like degree marks.) It's a fairly common typographical symbol that there's a note or a glossary bit somewhere else in the text, either at the bottom or side of the page or in the back. But this student, a senior English major or minor, had never encountered them before. AND, s/he also didn't read the book in the sort of way that I expect English students to read.

I guess I really do expect that a student will glance through the table of contents, at least scan the introduction, and look at the back for an index or gloss or notes. Any of those things would have helped this student figure out what the little circles were about, I think.

I'm tired of students complaining, and most tired when I feel like I haven't done a really good job of some aspect of the class, so the complaint is pretty reasonable. Every semester, I try to do some things, especially in my writing class, but also this semester in my senior seminar, that just don't work. This semester, it's mostly around reading and discussing race theory and racism. I feel awfully clumsy about the ways I try to lead discussions. And yet, I still think it's important to try.

I'm thinking about using a qualtrics survey to see how students are finding the advising sessions I've put together, and how I might improve them. I refuse to use the "a word" about this, because I want to do this not for some accrediting task, but to actually be more efficient and effective about the advising work.

When is the weekend again?


  1. I just walked into a meeting and asked if I could take a nap.

  2. I hope that Thanksgiving gives you a reprieve. I just realized that Thanksgiving means I get a week off from the classroom, but I will be a grading crazy-head. So not fun...

  3. I've been at the wall since the end of October. I figure I'll be plastered right up to it until, oh, December 23. That's if I'm lucky and grade the exams from the 21st with lightning speed!

    In other words, I understand. It's an exhausting and disheartening place to be.